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Hejira Print-ready version

by P.A. Kane
November 18, 2018

My road to Joni Mitchell began from an unlikely place - Rick Ocasek of The Cars. Back in the early nineteen-eighties, Rolling Stone magazine would do these little cut outs of what musician were listening to at the moment, which was like an early version of this whole playlist phenomenon. Amidst all the garbage from the likes of Sammy Hagar and Bonnie Tyler, there was this really cool, obscure little list by Ocasek which included the album Blue, by Joni Mitchell. I didn't much like The Cars, but was really impressed by his list.

Up to that point I was only familiar with Joni through songs on the radio and Court and Spark which my buddy The Doctor inherited from his sister and would sometimes play while we were hanging out in his room instead of doing our Chemistry homework.

Unlike most of us who were occupied with the flavor of the day - Queen, Fleetwood Mac and the like, The Doctor, had a PhD. level record collection that was small, but very hip and included jazz greats like Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Chick Corea and Court and Spark. I guess I liked the album, but not enough to explore further due to my very limited resources which went to Friday night beer and other brilliant albums like I'm In You by Peter Frampton.

So I kind of forgot about Joni for several years until I saw Ocasek's list. A little more evolved and a little further along with my resources I picked up Blue and it hit me hard. The intimacy of these revelatory songs featuring Joni's bittersweet voice accompanied by minimal instrumentation - often just a lone guitar or piano, were so visceral and so real and were such a welcome break from hairdos and bombast of the punk/new wave I was listening to at the time.

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